Missouri House passes bill to crack down on highway protests
Legislators added provisions ranging from banning police chokes to allowing hidden firearms in places of worship without the permission of religious leaders
JEFFERSON CITY, MO – (AP) – The Republican-run Missouri home passed law Tuesday to crack down on protesters blocking the streets after the measure was changed to include provisions from dozens of other loosely related bills is cooped up.
The major bill, approved 98-50, would make it a crime to repeatedly block traffic without permission, a tactic used to draw attention to racial injustices.
Republican bill sponsor Senator Bill Eigel said he thought of the idea after protesters angry at the death of George Floyd blocked traffic on Interstate 70 in the St. Louis area last summer. He has argued that blocking highways puts protesters and drivers at risk.
St. Louis Democratic MP LaKeySha Bosley said during the debate on the floor of the house that lawmakers must address the fundamental issues that led Missourians to take to the streets.
She said Tuesday’s passage instead showed that the legislation is trying to quell protests.
“We keep telling them that we are upset, that you are disturbing our happy little life, that you are telling us and showing us our injustices and how wrong we are,” said Bosley.
The legislation would also oblige offenders who commit dangerous crimes against the police, firefighters or other first responders to serve their full sentence without parole.
Another provision contains guidelines for internal investigations into possible police misconduct. The bill would, with exceptions, set a deadline of 90 days for internal investigations into alleged police misconduct. Among other things, the measure would close all records of this internal police investigation to the public.
“If you have the back of law enforcement today, you know what to do. You will vote yes, “said Nick Schroer, Republican MP in suburban St. Louis.” If you don’t have the backs of men and women in blue, you know what to do: no, you’re right. “
Legislators on Tuesday added provisions ranging from banning police use of chokeholds to allowing hidden firearms in places of worship without the permission of religious leaders.
The tactic of packing several bills in a collective package is often used by legislators towards the end of the session, which will take place on May 14 this year.
The aim is to set as many priorities as possible in the hope that the primary calculation hits the finish line and the other measures lead to success.
The House’s extensive additions almost certainly guarantee that the Senate Sponsor of the Act will ask to remove some of the new provisions from the measure before returning to the House and Senate for the final vote.
Among other things, the bill would also:
- Decrease the age at which someone can get concealed wear permission from 19-18 years of age for the first time
- Legalize brass knuckles
- Make it a crime for the police to have sex with inmates, inmates, or anyone else while they are on duty and using coercion
- Allow judges to take away driver’s licenses if people don’t appear in court twice. This change has been criticized by the champions of court reforms passed after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police